Review by: Zac Thomas
Blame it on my age, but I have never played the classic DOOM. I have always had a fascination of it though. Marking the creation of the First-Person Shooter (FPS) genre, DOOM blew the minds of nearly all gamers at the time. It presented players with a viewpoint that had never been explored before, and conveyed its gameplay in new way. It seemed the gamer was no longer playing as a character, rather, they were in the game shooting demons. Now, 23 years later, I can only wish that I could have had my mind blown along with everyone else, but in the meantime, I’ll be over here curb stomping every demon that stands between me and Olivia Pearce.
The ramp up to DOOM’s release was spotty to say the least. Bethesda tried its best to keep this game in the bloody cellar known as ID Software until launch day. Only giving the public an E3 presentation and multiplayer beta to make judgements on; they nearly fooled us into believing the game was hot garbage. Although the game underwent reconstructive surgery once or twice, we can now play a fully realized modern DOOM that remains faithful to its roots. One might say this is impossible (and I don’t blame you) I thought the task was too great for any mortal, but ID has given it a valiant effort. The product is downright exciting to play. It captures a certain bravado that story driven first person shooters don’t aim for anymore. DOOM is a call to action for other developers to step their game; frankly, the new take on E1M1 sends more chills down my spine than a modern Call of Duty campaign.
Although the game is titled DOOM, it takes place, assumingly, after DOOM 2. The Doomslayer (yeah) awakens from his sarcophagus in the Argent Facility on Mars--the place where Hell energy is harnessed--to a demonic invasion. Your task is simple: kill every demon and close the gate to Hell--that’s it. To sum it up, you are a walking death machine that goes to Hell. Like I said before this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve dealt with the demons before; they fear you even. This is your chance to finish the demons off with every glory kill and shotgun shell you can manage.
This game gets my blood rushing unlike any other game to date. I noticed how often I ran at the enemy, rather than crouching behind a barrel. Although this game has a crouch button, it seems to be more of a joke. You should never stop running: movement is key. None of the enemy attacks are hit scan and this leads to weaving in between fireballs and plasma bolts as you barrel toward the enemy. Why would you want to run at the enemy? Because after landing a few rockets on a fool, they are ready for a glory kill; this is the equivalent of a fatality in Mortal Kombat--gore and all. The glory kill animation varies depending on what direction you are coming from, relative to the demon’s orientation. Coming from the side? Connecting your knee to an imp’s face is sure to make their head explode. Although, the animation is short, it doesn’t seem short enough. But runes are there to solve all your qualms.
DOOM has an array of upgrades to acquire. While I thought this was extremely odd, it works well. Praetor Tokens can be found in each area; these are used to upgrade that Praetor Suit you found. You can improve many of the suit’s abilities: environmental resistance, area-scanning technology, equipment systems, power up effectiveness, and dexterity. With each upgrade your survivability is increased, and for the most part, you can tell. Along with Praetor Tokens you will find weapon upgrade drones; these equip you with weapon add-ons like scopes or mini-missiles. Runes are also scattered and hidden in each map. Runes give you the magical ability to perform glory kills at a fraction of the time or absorb items at a further distance. Lastly, Argent Energy spheres can also be found in the nooks and crannies of the maps as well; they pretty much just change your genetic makeup, pocket size, or armor.
It would be a disservice to talk about DOOM without mentioning the gunplay. It’s good. Don’t expect to be sitting back, popping off headshots with your sniper rifle. DOOM rewards players for being in the thick of it with your Super Shotgun, using every shell wisely--and you must, to prevent running your gun dry. Ammo is scarce and only picked up from dead enemies and new rooms. I found myself taking mental note of where each ammo pickup was as I ran through the encounters. Limited ammo causes the player to vary their play style, and adds a strategic layer to a game. Even if I was completely empty, a kill with the chainsaw drops enough ammo to nearly refill everything in your arsenal.
You will die. I played the game on Ultra Violence, and later stages require laser focus to avoid being hit. Also, like ammo, taking note of where each health box is allows for strategic level of gameplay. Although the gunfights can be hectic at times, mastering each encounter is immensely satisfying. When you manage to clear a room in a quick sweep, you feel powerful. But the best way to do this is by using your maneuverability, switching weapons, and limiting your pickups.
Everything I have said up to this point is purely Single Player focused. The campaign will run you about eight hours and is well worth full price, but two other modes are included in the package: Multiplayer and Snap Map. Both modes seem like filler to justify the $60 price point and conform to the modern standards. I personally played very little of each, but I still have an opinion on each mode.
Multiplayer is not fun. The game didn’t need a multiplayer to begin with, and the decision to just force one in is ill conceived. I can respect a good multiplayer mode in a primarily single-player game, i.e. The Last of Us, but DOOM does not make the mode remotely interesting compared to modern heavy hitters. The gameplay feels bland. Everyone has large pools of health that makes killing someone a group effort. Also, the guns don’t feel nearly as powerful as in the campaign. I understand that would make the multiplayer unbalanced, but at least attempt to capture that power. The levelling system is confusing. I couldn’t figure out when I would unlock Demonic armor, or even how to unlock it. In addition, the multiplayer maps are boring. They seem uninspired—that’s all I can say.
Next is Snap Map. This mode is interesting, but not to me. It’s neat that you can make your own maps in DOOM, Super Mario Maker style—that’s about it. Yeah, you can add modifiers and the mode supports more than one player, but why. DOOM is a strange place to go to create stuff. Like I said, Super Mario Maker allows for more widely shared content and seems like the more intriguing creative platform. That said, there is neat stuff being posted on Snap Map. There are remakes of classic DOOM levels and fun single-player missions. I just don’t see the reason to play that mode.
Everyone should play DOOM. It is an amazing modern realization of the old first-person formula: kill shit. The single-player is the main attraction here. With the introduction of upgrades, it feels new. The story is also somewhat engaging, and very easy to follow. I enjoyed every second I had with this game. Even playing it on PlayStation 4 I didn’t experience any weird bugs or feel I was getting the weaker version. The load times weren’t favorable, but bearable. All that said, the multiplayer should probably be avoided—for the best. I cannot recommend putting yourself through an underrealized mode. Nobody should come to this game expecting a Call of Duty; that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Competition in a saturated genre is a good thing. Maybe DICE will take notes on how to make a palatable single-player campaign. It is nice to see a triple A game take risks. DOOM is a shining example of the care a reboot should get. This only gets me more excited to see what else ID has to bring to the table after such a long development. Quake?